This past week we spent a lot of time preparing for the weeks to come and getting into a schedule. In the mornings from 9-2 we work with Jose’s church. We are doing two main things with his church, one of which is planning a big local mission project that will provide people with a cross-cultural experience while serving the city of Gainesville. People will stay in host homes and have training sessions in the morning about topics like evangelism and sharing testimonies and then in the afternoon groups will go into the community to serve. It is a really neat concept that will allow for many opportunities to unite with other local churches in loving this city. Marianna and I have been emailing a lot of churches and youth groups to recruit people to do this project.
The other thing we are doing with that church is working with their youth group. There are a lot of youth in the church, but they don’t have very many leaders. It is interesting to see the two different cultures between the youth and their parents. Most of the parents are first generation immigrants to the United States. They understand some English, but mostly speak Spanish. The second generation kids have grown up in the American culture and sometimes speak better English than they do Spanish. This creates a challenge when finding adults to invest in the youth because many of the parents don’t understand the youth and find it hard to relate to each other. Consequently, the youth kind of run themselves. Our hope this summer is to help guide the older youth into being leaders, so that they can continue on once we are gone and we also hope to find older people in the church who will step in to help. Please pray that God will break down the barriers between the older generation and the younger. Pray for a spiritual awakening to happen among the youth, that they will be spiritually fed and will learn what it means to disciple one another and to grow in their faith. Please also pray for this Tuesday night–that is when the youth group meets and when we will hopefully get to talk with the youth council and nail down what exactly we are going to do this summer with them.
In the afternoons from 2-5 we are working in different apartments. Today was our first day to actually get to work with the kids. Last week we planned what we are going to be doing, and while that was definitely necessary, I was glad to finally get to hang out with the kids. Today we played a lot of games and got to know the kids. I starred in my first “movie” which of course, like everything else these days, was about zombies. At the end we had story time and snack. We are going to go through the 10 Gospel Truths. We did the first one today and it went pretty well. I am thankful I have gotten to do backyard bible clubs at Ouachita all year, so I wasn’t thrown off guard when the kids’ attention span lasted four minutes and even then all the kids were talking at once and tattling on each other. They always end up surprising you, though, when you review the lesson and find out that by the grace of God, they can sometimes talk and listen at the same time. Pray that God will bring lots of kids to us with hearts open and ready to hear the truth of the gospel and respond to it. Pray for Marianna and I to be able to love these kids and to articulate the gospel clearly in our word and actions.
Overall, I am loving my time here. It has been challenging to work and live with a new person and to be thrown out of my comfort zone daily, but I am learning so much about the importance of prayer in the battle between the flesh and the Spirit. So much has happened in these past two weeks and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the summer holds. Thank you so much for your prayers.